It never fails. When I am away from home without my family overnight, I’ll get a phone call from someone who has been left behind and is having some kind of an issue they’re hopeful I can solve.

When the kids were smaller, my husband would often be the one to call. Typically struggling to find something he needed to dress the kids, I would often be able to tell him where to locate a particular item. Sometimes however, the item he needed help locating was one that had been used several times during the period I had been gone, and there was no way I could be of any assistance.

The children’s shoes are a good example of that. I can easily recall several instances in which my frantic husband called, hoping I could tell him places to look for our son’s shoes. I may have been on a women’s retreat or a scrapbook weekend at that time, but he was hoping that my mother powers transcended time and space and that I would be able to discern for him where to locate the tiny footwear.

I used to be irritated by it. I’d complain that there was no possible way I could help from 100-plus miles away and certainly not after a couple days. While that statement was true, it was not a response that offered any support to the man who had generously taken on more to make it possible for me to take a break. Of course, he had the attitude coming sometimes, because he’d call just to ask if I had seen the kids themselves!

As the years have passed, the calls became fewer because the kids could find their own things with more ease and he finally grasped that I wasn’t amused believing that our children were missing.

I still get calls, but they’ve changed. They are usually about some type of emergency, such as when my daughter broke her fingers last summer, or something I’d never imagine, like when she told me this weekend that she was bitten by a chipmunk that she attempted to save from the cat.

After a few questions that told me it wasn’t a sick animal that had bitten her, I was able to laugh along with her as she recounted her mission as a humanitarian. Or rather, her chipmunk-itarian mission.

I expect that I will eventually miss these calls, when the kids are all grown and gone. I’d venture to guess that I will look back on them with a little bit of nostalgia once they have stopped coming. I also still think it might be nice for someone in my house to simply call to say hello when I’m away. A simple “hi” would be amazing. Although, what would I have to write about then?

Laura Zoeller can be reached at

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